Ada Lovelace

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (1815 – 1852) was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine.

She was the first to recognize that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, and to have published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. As a result, she is often regarded as the first computer programmer.

Ada Byron was the only child of poet Lord Byron and mathematician Lady Byron. All of Byron’s other children were born out of wedlock to other women. Byron separated from his wife a month after Ada was born and left England forever.

Four months later, he commemorated the parting in a poem that begins, “Is thy face like thy mother’s my fair child! ADA! sole daughter of my house and heart?”. He died in Greece when Ada was eight years old. Her mother remained bitter and promoted Ada’s interest in mathematics and logic in an effort to prevent her from developing her father’s perceived insanity.

Despite this, Ada remained interested in him, naming her two sons Byron and Gordon. Upon her death, she was buried next to him at her request. Although often ill in her childhood, Ada pursued her studies assiduously. She married William King in 1835. King was made Earl of Lovelace in 1838, Ada thereby becoming Ada Lovelace, Countess of Lovelace.

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